First Call for Vets

First Call is sponsored by United Rail Inc. in support of our wounded veterans, now returned home. We support them and are committed to first seeking qualified candidates for our open positions first from those wounded veterans who served. Our EVP of Industrial development, Wayne Bailey, served in the US Army in Vietnam and was twice wounded and received the Bronze Star for his defense of his airbase during the Tet Offensive.

We are well represented here by two veterans, also of the Army, Major David Robertson, and Captain Randy Zahn who serve as the co-chair of our First Call project. We are honored to have them on board.

In the months to come, they will be sponsoring several initiatives for the project including an employment awareness for jobs within the rail industry, a wounded veterans fund to support families of disabled veterans, and an educational program to train veterans for jobs in our industry.

Keep tuned to this site for more information.

Randy R. Zahn – Co Chairman – United Rail Inc. First Call Project

Randy enlisted in the United States Army shortly after high school. In March of 1969 he completed Basic Combat Training at Fort Polk, Louisiana before beginning flight school at Fort Wolters, Texas, the Army’s Primary Helicopter Center and School. Having graduated from primary flight training, he went to Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah, Georgia to the US Army Aviation School (Element) to complete his flight training In December, 1969.

Having graduated in the top 10% of his flight school class, Randy was selected to transition into the AH1 Cobra, the worlds first attack helicopter. He completed the Cobra transition in March of 1970, one week prior to his deployment to Vietnam.

In Vietnam, Randy served with C Troop, 1/9th Cavalry of the 1st Air Cavalry Division (Airmobile). He served with Charlie Troop for a year and flew more than 1,000 combat hours earning 43 Air Medals, two Distinguished Flying Crosses, a Purple Heart, Bronze Star and many other awards and decorations.

After Vietnam, Randy was assigned to the 3rd Aviation Company (Cheyenne) at Yuma Proving Grounds (YPG), the new equipment test team for the Lockheed AH56A Cheyenne. Shortly after being assigned, the program was cancelled and the 3rd Aviation Company was re-designated the 155th Aviation Company (Attack Helicopter). They remained at YPG developing and writing the Army doctrine for Nap of the Earth (NOE) flight in combat.

The unit was then transferred to Ft. Ord, California, but were mostly on temporary duty at Hunter Liggett Military Reservation (HLMR) at Jolon, California. At HLMR the 155th worked directly for Combat Developments Experimentation Command (CDEC), where they tested all of the sighting and weapons systems that would be installed in the AH64 Apache helicopter. Testing of the installations were carried out by conducting air to air combat operations against F4 Phantom aircraft out of Pt. Mugu Naval Air Station and with armored battalions, who were loaned from Ft. Campbell, KY.

Randy was selected to travel to Washington D.C., to brief the Commanding General of CDEC on operational issues and developments.

In February of 1972, Randy was released from active duty and worked abroad for several years.

In 1980, after eight years in the Inactive Reserve, he signed up for the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) and was assigned to Delta Company, 2nd of the 1st Cav at Ft. Hood, Texas, where he transitioned into the OH58 Kiowa Observation helicopter.

As an IRR Reservist, Randy went back on active duty in 1984 and was assigned to Ft. Drum, New York, where he supported the airfield staff as a UH1 Iroquois (Huey) pilot. Later in the year, he attended the UH1 Instructor Pilot course and the AH1S Transition and Gunnery course at Ft. Rucker, Alabama.

Randy returned to civilian life to start the Emergency Medical Service (EMS) program at the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics in Madison, Wisconsin, in April of 1985. He also joined the Wisconsin National Guard where he was a UH1M Instructor Pilot and AH1 pilot.

In 1989, Randy and his family moved to Scotland to take a job with Bond Helicopters, flying oil and gas support in the North Sea. While still in the IRR, he did one Annual Training (AT) tour with a VIP flight in Heidelberg, Germany before cut-backs in the military resulted in the loss of this slot.

In 1990, while visiting the U.S. Naval Security Group Activity (NSGA) facility at RAF Edzell, Randy spoke with several officials there and for the following seven years, until Edzell’s closure, Randy was attached to the U.S. Navy at Edzell as a Plans Officer.

From 1998, until his family returned to the States in 2001, Randy was assigned to the Defense Attache’s Office at the U.S. Embassy in London, England.

Randy retired from the Army in 2004 as a CW4 Master Army Aviator, having served more than 34 years of active, reserve and National Guard duty.

He is the author of his Vietnam memoir, Snake Pilot, the recipient of the FAA’s Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award and still works in support of our military as a Senior Lead Pilot responsible for operations at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center at Twenty-nine Palms, California, and at Ft. Hunter Liggett, where he served on active duty 48 years ago.

The narrative from the President of the United States for his combat service for his two Distinguished Flying Crosses is below.

Wright Brothers Master Pilot award

Author Snake Pilot

Distinguished Flying Cross

Randy R. Zahn

1) The President of the United States takes great pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Flying Cross to Warrant Officer Randy R. Zahn for heroism while participating in aerial flight evidenced by voluntary action above and beyond the call of duty in the Republic of Vietnam. Warrant Officer Zahn distinguished himself by exceptionally valorous actions on 18 October 1970, while serving as Pilot in the Republic of Vietnam. Warrant Officer Zahn made repeated rocket attacks on enemy positions after one of the helicopters had been downed by the hostiles. Again and again he attacked until his ammunition was expired and he was replaced by another gunship. His outstanding flying ability and devotion to duty is in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.

2) The President of the United States takes great pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Flying Cross to Chief Warrant Officer for heroism while participating in aerial flight evidenced by voluntary action above and beyond the call of duty in the Republic of Vietnam. Chief Warrant Officer Zahn distinguished himself by exceptionally valorous action on 10 January 1971 in the Republic of Vietnam. While on a visual reconnaissance mission, Chief Warrant Officer Zahn’s aircraft began taking intense anti-aircraft fire from several enemy emplacements. Realizing that these positions must be destroyed, Chief Warrant Officer Zahn, with complete disregard for his own safety, attacked the hostile fortifications. His courageous actions resulted in complete destruction of dangerous anti-aircraft sites. Chief Warrant Officer Zahn’s outstanding flying ability and devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.